By Curt Groebner
It all started in mid-summer 2008, when my buddy and I were working our summer job at a local golf course and looking for something fun to do. As a couple of crazy college kids seeking a claim to fame, our big feat would be to play 24 straight hours of golf. We grabbed a dozen light-up golf balls, some extra clothes, and a few snacks and headed out just like any other round of golf…except for the minor detail that we teed off at midnight. 24 hours later, I was stumbling across the finish-line by myself, nursing countless sores and blisters and wondering why I ever thought this would be a good idea.
The real light-bulb moment didn’t come until after the event as I told people what I had done. I was continually asked if I did it for a charity, as the response “I thought it would be fun” seemed downright ridiculous. That’s when I realized this event had all of the makings of a very effective fundraiser. It had the shock factor, it was a quantifiable feat and I was just crazy enough to do it again.
I let that thought stew for two years as the legend continued to grow. Somewhere along the way, I was able to find three other younger golf shop coworkers who had taken a particular fascination in the concept of 24 hours of golf. Their interest was just the spark I needed for the “All Day Golf” campaign to be officially born. We launched our first fundraiser in 2010 without any goals or expectations, chose a generic charity and started the mission.
Fast-forward to today and we’ve now completed the challenge eight years in a row! We’ve seen it all by now, from playing through a torrential downpour at 3:00am to explaining to confused policemen why we were on the course in the middle of the night (that luckily got sorted out!). Our eight years have added up to 192 hours on the golf course together and over 1,000 holes played!
We’re fortunate to have found a way to turn something we love into a means of giving back. The biggest game-changer came when I found just what cause meant the most to me. The unfortunate reality, that I share with many advocates, is that it often takes a tragedy to truly find a purpose for what you’re doing. For me, this occurred in 2013, just a few weeks before we launched our fourth year of the campaign, when I found out that my uncle had been diagnosed with lung cancer.
This wasn’t my first run-in with lung cancer, as it had ultimately claimed the lives of two of my grandparents a decade before. This newest hit to me and my family now gave me something to fight for; a clear direction. In my search for ways to help, I came across Lung Cancer Alliance (LCA). Their mission was a perfect fit for what we were trying to do with our fundraiser. Through LCA, we’re not only able to contribute towards research and the quality care needs of patients, but we also can focus on the often-overlooked mission of ending the stigma that continues to hang a cloud over lung cancer support. We were proud when we chose to join forces with LCA, and we haven’t looked back since.
We’ve now raised over $36,000 alone in our five years since partnering with LCA. This was capped by us cracking the $10,000 barrier for our 2017 fundraiser on August 12th! We completed 147 holes of golf and proudly carried the torch for our cause, but the real heroes have always been our donors. We’ve been amazed by the support we’ve received through the years and how it has continued to grow.
My memories of my uncle always start to flood back to me this time of the year along with the changing seasons. My uncle and I spent our closest times hunting together every fall, and I used to spend each Thanksgiving over at his house. He carved almost every Thanksgiving turkey of my childhood and that was a tradition I’ll never forget. Just as it goes, we lost him on Thanksgiving morning three years ago. November carries a different meaning for me now. I suppose it is only fitting that November be National Lung Cancer Awareness Month, so it is as good a time as any for us to speak out, share our stories, remember our loved onesand keep fighting the good fight!
Carrying on forever with love for Grandma, Grandpa and Uncle Chuck. We hope to continue to shine a light for many years to come!
Follow Curt’s lead and create a lung cancer fundraiser that fits your personality this November! Learn more.